SRI LANKA’S PERERA CONTINUES GOLF JOURNEY IN ABOITIZ INVITATIONAL
Cebu, Philippines: Promising Sri Lankan talent, Mithun Perera tees off in the Aboitiz Invitational presented by ICTSI starting on Wednesday determined to maintain his steady progress on the Asian Development Tour (ADT).
The 24-year-old finished tied 34th in his ADT debut at the Clearwater Masters in Malaysia and then improved with a solid 12th place outing at the Impian Classic, also in Malaysia in May.
An appearance in the US$65,000 Aboitiz Invitational, the first event in the Philippines to feature on the ADT, will present Perera with a timely opportunity to showcase his growing potential against a strong field.
Filipino stars Juvic Pagunsan and Artemio Murakami along with the current top-three players from the ADT Order of Merit – leader Chiang Chen-chih of Chinese Taipei, American Jonathan Moore and Kao Shang-hung, also of Chinese Taipei, will also compete at Cebu Country Club.
Perera, whose father Nandasena was a famous name on the old Asian circuit during the 1980s and 1990s, hopes to emulate the success of Bangladeshi sensation Siddikur Rahman, who is currently second on the Asian Tour Order of Merit.
“I want to be a good golfer. My father is coaching me and I’ll be trying to play my best golf and show my country’s flag to the world, just like Siddikur. I want to do something for my country,” said Perera.
The stocky Sri Lankan is a three-time national amateur champion and also won the Asia Pacific Amateur Championship in China in 2009 and also other amateur events in Malaysia. He turned professional last year but did not compete in the Asian Tour’s Qualifying School which he now regrets as it has limited his appearances on the ADT.
“I’ll definitely come for Q-school next year as I want to get onto the ADT and Asian Tour,” said Perera.
“I was really happy with my two finishes on the ADT as it was against good fields. I’ll try to play in as many as I can. The goal is to keep my card under par in every round. I don’t care what position I end up.”
After competing against Siddikur on the amateur stage, Perera has kept in touch with his former rival, tapping on his experiences and knowledge of competing on the region’s elite circuit.
“Siddikur has the same style of play as I do. We’re not very long but we keep it straight and rely on our short game. He’s doing really well on the Asian Tour and I’m happy for him. He gives me inspiration.
“We are close friends and whenever we meet, we always discuss about his experiences on the Asian Tour. I want to get myself ready next year.”
Perera said that golf was still very much a new and emerging sport in Sri Lanka. He believes the establishment of an ADT event in Colombo would go a long way in promoting the game.
“We’ve got about six pros in Sri Lanka and we want to get things moving in Colombo. If people know more about golf and its value, they will support us. The government is more interested in golf these days. We have three courses now and there are plans to build a few more. It’ll be good to get a tournament there.”
As a boy, his first love was naturally cricket which is played widely in Sri Lanka. Eventually, he got bitten by the golf bug and his father began to coach him. “I’m proud to have him as my dad as he is a good player. But there’s no pressure for me to emulate him. I’ll just play my own game,” he said.
“We play together about three to four times a week and he will coach and show me some tricks. I want to be a good professional player and one day, I want to play in the Masters Tournament. That’s my goal.”
The man in form this week is Chinese Taipei’s Kao, who triumphed at the Ballantine’s Taiwan Championship last week which pushed him to third place on the ADT Order of Merit. The top three players at the end of the ADT season will earn Asian Tour cards for 2012.
The Aboitiz Invitational is staged in partnership with the Philippine Golf Tour. The ADT was launched last year to create a career pathway for emerging players onto the established Asian Tour. The top three players from the ADT Order of Merit will gain Asian Tour cards for 2012.
Photo - Asian Tour
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